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UK troops could be sent into Gaza to help with aid deliveries

Suggestion comes after US announces none of its own troops would be sent to the enclave
A truck carrying humanitarian aid from the UK that entered Gaza through the Kerem Shalom (Karm Abu Salem) crossing to Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on 17 February 2024 (Said Khatib/AFP)

British troops could be deployed in Gaza to assist with aid deliveries, after the US said it would not be sending any of its own ground forces.

The US previously said a "third party" would be responsible for driving trucks along a floating causeway onto the beach, a role the BBC has learned could be filled by British forces.

The BBC on Saturday quoted Whitehall as saying no decision had yet been made and that the issue had not yet been raised with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

US President Joe Biden first announced the plans for a floating pier in Gaza to deliver aid in March.

The US said it would coordinate the security of the temporary pier with Israel and that the temporary port would increase the amount of humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the war-battered enclave by "hundreds of additional truckloads" per day.

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A British defence source told AFP that a UK ship to house hundreds of US army personnel building the pier had set sail from Cyprus.

According to the Pentagon, Royal Navy support ship Cardigan Bay will help to support the international effort to construct the pier, which is set to be completed in May.

The US estimates it will facilitate the delivery of 90 truckloads of international aid a day into Gaza, rising to up to 150 truckloads once fully operational.

"It is critical we establish more routes for vital humanitarian aid to reach the people of Gaza, and the UK continues to take a leading role in the delivery of support," UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said.

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